Nothing says fall quite like a pumpkin. From Jack O’ Lanterns and coffee flavors, to center pieces for your Thanksgiving table, this seasonal squash is an autumn staple. Let’s take a look at the chemistry that has us falling for pumpkins year after year.
Nope! And your pumpkin pie probably isn’t either. The “pumpkin” used in your pie is actually a specially bred sweet squash that is less watery and fibrous than your typical carving pumpkin. Both pumpkin pie and pumpkin spice flavored foods rely more on their blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and clove than the gourd itself for their flavor. Since natural spices don’t produce consistent flavoring in large-scale commercial food production, the molecules that produce the flavor in these spices (cinnamaldehyde & pinene are among these) are often added instead.
You can read more about the flavor chemistry of your favorite fall treats in this Chemical & Engineering News article.
This infographic was created by Andy Brunning.